Saving the Critically Endangered Vaquita

Did you know that the vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is the most endangered marine mammal in the world? Vaquita numbers in the past were in the 500-600 range, but over the last 30 years their numbers have plummeted to only around a dozen in total. Living only in the Upper Gulf of California, the vaquita is unfortunately close in size to one of the main targeted fish species in the area, the totoaba. Because of this, vaquita are frequently unintentionally caught in fishers’ gillnets, contributing to their critically endangered status.
The Living Desert has been one of the leaders of the Vaquita SAFE (Save Animals From Extinction) program on behalf of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Working with fishers in the Upper Gulf, the program is transforming fishing in the area away from gillnets, as this approach has one of the highest rates of incidental bycatch of any fishing technique. The program has already had success working with the local fishers’ cooperative Pesca ABC to identify, field test, and popularize suripera nets, a viable alternative to gillnets that produce high quantities of quality shrimp with zero bycatch. Internationally, the education, outreach, and behavioral change efforts through the Vaquita SAFE program have brought attention to the vaquita and the ecological plights that they face

Supporting The Living Desert’s role in the Vaquita SAFE program is pivotal in safeguarding the vaquita, the planet’s most endangered marine mammal, by shifting fishing practices to eliminate bycatch. Donate now to make a difference.

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